Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Towing with a Pickup Truck in the UK

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Towing with a Pickup Truck in the UK

Pickup trucks are commonly purchased in the UK for carrying out hard labor. Whether you want to transport trailers, heavy loads, or other vehicles, pickup trucks are true workhorses. But while you can find a wide range of pickup trucks in the UK, towing can be complex and even risky. It can present a variety of unique challenges that require careful consideration and adherence to local regulations.

No matter, if you’re new to towing or have been doing it for some time, avoiding common towing mistakes, is critical to ensure the entire operation is safe and successful. With that in mind, let’s take a detailed look at 5 of the most common mistakes people commit when towing with a pickup truck-

Common Pickup Truck Towing Mistakes

1.  Improper Weight Distribution

Proper weight distribution is crucial for maintaining control and stability when towing with a pickup truck. A lot of pickup truck owners make the mistake of improperly loading their trailers, leading to a host of issues like lower braking efficiency, swaying, and compromised overall control of the towing setup.


  • Achieve Even Weight Distribution

It is generally recommended that you should have around 60% of the total towing weight around the front of the trailer and the remaining 40% evenly distributed along its length. You should use proper tie-downs and securing mechanisms to avoid any kind of cargo shifting during transit.

  • Set the Weight Distribution Bars Correctly

If the trailer and the vehicle are bouncing, chances are you’ve not set up the weight distribution bars correctly. Alternatively, it could also be that you’ve not chosen the right distribution bar as per your requirements. As you might know, these bars are available in many different strengths and weights. The right bar when set up correctly will sit parallel to the frame of your trailer.

  • Double-Check, Inspect, and Adjust Restraints

Double-Check, Inspect, and Adjust Restraints

Once the load is secured to the pickup truck, ensure you double-check everything for safety. During longer journeys, it’d be wise to inspect the restraints at intervals and make the required adjustments for consistent load stability.

2.  Neglecting Weight Limits and Regulations

One of the most common travel trailer towing mistakes is ignoring the weight limits and regulations. Every pickup truck in the UK has a specific towing capacity. For instance, the Ford Ranger Raptor is a popular pickup truck in the UK and its towing capacity is up to 2.5 tonnes. Exceeding this weight limit can lead to dangerous situations on the road.

Moreover, there are certain laws and regulations governing trailer weights, lighting, and brakes. Failing to comply with these regulations could result in penalties and even other legal consequences.


  • Calculate the Combined Weight

Before beginning your journey, calculate the combined weight of the pickup truck, trailer, and load. Ensure the total weight is well within the vehicle’s towing capacity and the legal limits. You can check the vehicle manual to learn more about its towing capacity. The same is also mentioned on the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) plate.

  • Remember the 85% Rule

Most experienced drivers would know the 85% rule. According to this rule, you should avoid towing more than 85% of the vehicle’s kerb weight to ensure stable towing, especially if you’re new to towing with your pickup truck. Experienced drivers can tow up to 100% of the kerb weight but not more than that.

  • Get C1E Category License for Carrying Higher Loads

In most cases, your standard driving license in the UK allows you to drive a pickup truck and trailer combination of 3,500kg to 8,250kg MAM (Maximum Authorized Mass) depending on whether you passed the driving test before or after January 1, 1997. But if you want to carry bigger loads, you can apply for a C1E category license that offers a combined (truck+ trailer) capacity of up to 12,000kg.

3.  Not Knowing or Ignoring Braking Considerations

Not Knowing or Ignoring Braking Considerations

Driving solo without the load is very different from when you’re carrying a heavy load. For instance, the additional weight will require a longer braking distance compared to when you’re not towing. Longer braking distance means higher stopping times. By neglecting the braking considerations, you’ll be compromising safety as this could lead to serious accidents.


  • Regularly Inspect the Braking System

Many towing mistakes, including the one listed above, can be avoided if you regularly inspect your vehicle. During the inspection, make sure that you check the pickup truck’s braking system. If the trailer has a braking system too, do not ignore it during routine inspections. Ensure that the brake lights, hazard lights, and turn signals are working as expected.

  • Go for a Trial Run

If you’re new to towing, braking is one aspect that deserves your utmost attention. Remember that the added weight will impact the braking performance of the vehicle. So, keep the braking distance and stopping time in mind before setting out on a journey. A small trial run with the car trailer and load can help you understand the process better.

  • Always Keep a Safe Distance from Other Vehicles

The higher stopping distance also means you’ll have to maintain more distance from the vehicles you follow on the road. This is especially important when the roads are wet due to rains or when it is snowing as these elements can affect your vehicle’s braking performance.

4.  Inadequate Towing Setup

If you want to avoid the common mistakes towing a car race transporter, inadequate or improper towing setup is something you should watch out for. For safe towing, you should always invest in quality towing accessories, including the right safety chains, hitches, etc. All of these components are crucial for maintaining control stability, and visibility when towing.


  • Check the Weight Limit of the Towing Accessories

Check the Weight Limit of the Towing Accessories

All the different towing accessories, including hitch, cables, chains, etc., have weight limits. So, at the time of making a purchase, have a clear understanding of your requirements. This will allow you to invest in accessories that are suitable and safe for your towing requirements.

  • Install Extended Side Mirrors

You can considerably increase the safety and success of your towing operations by installing extended side mirrors, especially if you regularly carry wider loads. These mirrors increase your field of vision, making it easier for you to carry wider loads and navigate through complex traffic situations and protecting you against towing mistakes.

  • Avoid Investing in the Cheapest Towing Setup/Accessories

Safety and not savings should be the primary criteria when investing in a towing setup. While every individual wants to save as much as possible, the towing setup or accessories are not something where you should entirely focus on saving a few pounds. Always invest in quality equipment and accessories according to your requirements for enhanced safety.

5.  Neglecting Tire Maintenance

Another common mistake made when towing with a pickup truck is underestimating proper tire maintenance. Towing puts additional stress on the tires of your vehicle and neglecting their health could result in reduced traction, decreased stability, and blowouts. And all of these conditions can have serious consequences when you’re out on the road.


  • Inspect Tires Before Every Journey

Before you embark on your towing journey, inspect the tires on the pickup truck as well as the trailer. Ensure they are properly inflated as per the manufacturer’s recommended pressure levels. Pay attention to the depth of tire thread as worn-out threads can reduce traction, especially in slippery or wet conditions.

  • Have a Stringent Maintenance Schedule

You should have a stringent maintenance schedule for your pickup truck and trailer. If you’re inexperienced in this department, ensure you hire a professional to do it for you. Any component that needs a replacement should be immediately replaced for complete safety. As for the tires, you should consider replacing them at intervals of 5-8 years. However, the timeline can vary based on usage.

  • Do Not Delay Repairs

If the tires or any other part, accessory, or equipment is not working as it should, it is better to get them repaired or replaced at the earliest. Many individuals have the habit of delaying vehicle repairs. But such delays could prove disastrous in some cases. So, ensure you get them inspected by a professional before embarking on the journey.

Some Other Common Towing Mistakes

Some Other Common Towing Mistakes

Here are a few other common mistakes towing a car trailer-

  • Overworking the Towing Vehicle- Driving the towing vehicle at higher temperatures can result in a variety of engine-related problems due to overheating. Always keep an eye on the temperature gauges, exhaust gas temperature, and pressure gauges.
  • Overspeeding While Towing- While it is always tempting to speed up and reach the destination at the earliest, it is something you should avoid at all costs when towing. Always follow the speed limit and even drive slower when carrying bigger loads or when the roads are bad.
  • Not Lubing the Components- Preventive measures can help you stay a step ahead with your towing setup. One of the most important aspects of preventive care is adequately lubing all the pivot points where metal meets metal and rubber bushings meet the metal.

Tow Safely, Tow Legally with Your Pickup Truck

Towing with a pickup truck in the UK is a practical and efficient way to transport trailers and other heavy loads. By avoiding common towing mistakes, you can ensure a safe, smooth, and incident-free experience.

Always remember that responsible towing is not just about reaching the destination but arriving safely and securely. Use the tips discussed above to confidently navigate the challenges of towing with a pickup truck and ensuring the safety of yourself, your load, and others on the road.

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